21st June 2024

Executive Director of DI, Richard Ahiagbah

The Danquah Institute (DI) has claimed that the former Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Charlotte Osei, lied to the Supreme Court about the accuracy and credibility of the 2012 voters’ register, in a bid to avoid a compilation of a new register for the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections.

According to DI, while there were clear and blatant illegalities associated with the register, the Electoral Commission, then under the leadership of Mrs Charlotte Osei, clearly turned a blind eye to the facts.

The illegalities, it noted, included the lack of a record proving the qualification of the registrants in Form 1A of C.172, and the unlawful use of birth and baptismal certificates as forms of qualification to register. In addition to that, DI claims, the proof of eligibility was not mandatory for registrants, a suggestion that the process was dubious.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, the Executive Director of DI, Richard Ahiagbah, expressed his displeasure at how former President John Dramani Mahama could defend the EC to perpetuate such illegality.

“In trying to avoid the compilation of a new register in 2016, the EC, for the lack of a better word, deceived the Supreme Court that it has a process to identify those who registered, including using the National Health Insurance Authority card,” Mr Ahiagbah said.

According to him, “the EC lied in open court and, somehow, they got away with it until now.”

“What was the motivation for including those two documents (birth and baptismal certificates) such that they were not included in the list of acceptable qualification documents presented to Parliament [in 2012] for approval?” Mr Ahiagbah questioned.

Decisive approach

To correct the illegality, the head of the policy think tank asked the elections management body, under the leadership of Jean Mensa, to be forthright and decisive in its approach and processes as it commences the compilation of a new voters’ register.

Mr Ahiagbah noted that, currently, the EC’s public education and rationalisation exercise is a major reason why some Ghanaians are worried and skeptical about the compilation of a new voters’ register in which the voter ID card is excluded from the processes as an authentic document.

“Recently, the issue of excluding the current voter ID as a form of qualification in C.I 126 has attracted widespread public disapproval. This should not have happened if the EC was minded to inform Ghanaians that the voter ID card’s exclusion as a form of qualification is directed by the Supreme Court of Ghana,” he said.


Public engagement

He therefore recommended to the EC to engage and objectively assess the recommendations put forth by leading civil society organisations and members of the Ghana Anti-corruption Coalition (GACC) in clarifying the issues.

“They raised concerns to do with the cost of compiling a new register, procurement issues, and technical concerns. Others, too, have raised concerns about time and COVID-19 as reasons why the EC should not compile a new register.

“But, given the overriding constitutional, legal and process irregularities advanced thus far, and would hopefully be amplified beyond the four walls of this room, we believe that the EC can achieve consensus with all interest groups to engage the concerns about cost, procurement, technical, time and COVID-19, as part of the EC’s process to compile a new voters’ register,” he explained.

Supreme Court rule

Though the case for a new register is inevitable on constitutional legal grounds, Mr Richard Ahiagbah urged the Electoral Commission to be guided by the Supreme Court’s interpretation that the mandate of the Commission to compile the register of voters implies a duty to compile a reasonably accurate and credible register.

“This is important because the right to vote is sacred and exclusive to Ghanaians, and the EC must indulge in all safety, legal, and regulatory measures to ensure that all eligible Ghanaians get the opportunity to register,” he said.

Source: Daily Statesman


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